Racism is only one part of what Tin will have to deal with growing up. Having a Jewish mother will also teach him about anti-Semitism. Being adopted will bring encounters of adoptism. Having older parents will open a world of ageism. Tin having two mothers will be rife for homophobism. For all the isms there will be conversation, a social reality to observe and digest, a built-in response to be determined.
With Tin’s adoption birthday celebration looming and his resistance to the idea, we began stepping gingerly around the topic and focused instead on a family celebration. At one point, when we asked him what he wanted to celebrate (since adoption birthday didn’t appeal to him) he said, “I want to celebrate me.” Done.
When I took him to his swimming class that afternoon, I had to laugh at myself because of everything that had led us there. A neighbor and swim instructor had offered to give Tin lessons for free. I loved the idea because he is an African American and so I turned down my other neighbor’s offer of lessons even though she was the swim instructor I had taken him to when he was younger.
In the end, I could never pin down an actual lesson with the first guy and a group lesson came up with Tin’s friends that was hard to pass up, particularly as I was feeling an urgency to get him back into swim instruction after he jumped off the diving board at a birthday party. I had to remind him he didn’t know how to swim yet.
What got me was that this last minute class brought a delightful surprise. Of the two instructors in the pool, one is a beautiful African American woman. Yay! As Tin was in the water on this particular afternoon, he said to the other instructor, “Today’s my adoption birthday celebration.” I was all ears. And she said, “Really! I was adopted too, but we always called it my homecoming celebration.” Score!
Do you ever get the feeling that those things you try so hard to make work don’t, but when you let things go, amazing things happen on their own?